Sunday, July 10, 2016

ARC Review & Author Interview: Cream of the Crop (The Hudson Valley Series Book 2) by Alice Clayton

New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Alice Clayton brings her trademark blend of funny and sexy to this second contemporary romance in the brand-new Hudson Valley series!

Manhattan’s It Girl, Natalie Grayson, has it all: she’s a hot exec at a leading advertising firm, known industry-wide for her challenging and edgy campaigns. She’s got a large circle of friends, a family that loves her dearly, and her dance card is always full with handsome eligible bachelors. What else could a modern gal-about-town wish for? The answer, of course, is...cheese.

Natalie’s favorite part of each week is spending Saturday morning at the Union Square Farmer’s Market, where she indulges her love of all things triple cream. Her favorite booth also indulges her love of all things handsome. Oscar Mendoza, owner of the Bailey Falls Creamery and purveyor of the finest artisanal cheeses the Hudson Valley has to offer, is tall, dark, mysterious, and a bit oblivious. Or so she thinks. But that doesn’t stop Natalie from fantasizing about the size of his, ahem, milk can.

Romance is churning, passion is burning, and something incredible is rising to the top. Could it

Cream of the Crop releases July 12, 2016

I had the opportunity to ask Alice Clayton a few questions regarding the Hudson Valley series! Here's what she had to say:

Interview with Alice Clayton

1. I adored Nuts, the first book in the Hudson Valley series and thought it was a wonderful ode to small town life. You write about it as if you’ve been there. Can you tell us a little about your inspiration for this series?  

Sure! The entire series came from an afternoon at our local farmers market and then it was off and running. I love farmers, especially good looking ones, and I'm so in love with the idea of people knowing who is actually producing their food that I wanted to try and take something like the farm to table movement and inject a little hot and heavy into it.

2.  How many books will there be in the Hudson Valley series?  I’m not sure I want this to end!

Right now the plan is to have 3 all together, but who knows what I might get up to in the future;)

3.  In Cream of the Crop, Natalie is an advertising exec attracted to cheese maker Oscar. What makes them good together from your perspective?  

They're the definition of opposites attract. And I feel like Oscar is the only man to be able to really see Natalie for who she is.

4.  If you had to pick one for the long term, are you small town or big city? 

Can I be both?

5.  I’m a big fan of collaborative writing and I’m looking forward to Roman Crazy.  Can you tell us a little about your writing experience with your co-author Nina Bocci?

We're so excited for everyone to get a peek at this book! We had the best time, we've been thinking about writing together for years and it just finally worked with our schedules to do it, and it was a blast

Roman Crazy by Alice Clayton & Nina Bocci releases on September 13, 2016

What I thought about Cream of the Crop

I always love a romance that makes me feel like I'm falling in love right along with the characters, and Cream of the Crop did a good job of leaving me with a happy heart and enjoyable reading experience.

Natalie Grayson has a successful career in NYC, her choice of men if she's interested, and yet she finds herself with a lustful crush on a cheese farmer from Bailey Falls.  It's a good thing her best friend Roxie lives there!  When the little community contracts with Natalie's advertising firm and she gets the contract, she finds herself up close and personal with the gorgeous cheese farmer.

Oscar Mendoza is living a simple life taking care of his cows and making cheese. He doesn't have a lot to say and when he does, he can a bit short. When he finally meets Natalie, oh do the sparks fly!  I loved these two together. There was great chemistry between them -- his quiet reserve complements her sassy, sometimes brash demeanor quite nicely.  This is definitely an opposites attract sort of romance, and it's very well done.  I ended up loving them both.  

There's a real theme of reconciliation in Cream of the Crop, with Natalie and Oscar having to reconcile two very different life styles.  He wants the small town life, and Natalie wants it all.  There's also some past history that might not be quite so "past" for both of them.   

Roxie, Leo and Polly from the previous book in the series also make quite a few appearances and the town of Bailey Falls is just a lovely secondary character to the story.

For me, the best part of Cream of the Crop was Natalie and Oscar together. I loved the way they interacted and I felt the heat between them.  I did feel that their issues were resolved too quickly and I was left with wanting something more there. The book long build-up to them facing their city/country dilemma needed to be balanced with a few more actual scenes rather than just having Natalie and Oscar tell the reader how it was resolved.

Overall, I really like this series and I'm looking forward to what and who comes next! 

ARC provided for review.

About the Author 
ALICE CLAYTON worked in the cosmetics industry for over a decade before picking up a pen (read laptop).
She enjoys gardening but not weeding, baking but not cleaning up, and finally convinced her long-time boyfriend to marry her.
Now, about that Bernese Mountain dog

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